The following is from the Dec. 5, 2007, edition of The Contra Costa Times. Ed Fox, a professor of marketing and director of SMU's JCPenney Center for Retail Excellence, provided expert commentary for this story.

Attention, shoppers: big deals, small lines

By Blanca Torres

December is here, but many shoppers still consider this an "early" time to begin holiday shopping.

Take, for example, Jennifer Berg of Livermore, who was browsing in Pleasanton's Stoneridge mall recently.

"I'm just kind of starting," she said. "It's earlier than I've ever started before."

Berg said she skips the mad post-Thanksgiving shopping rush and is now looking for bargains and calm afternoons when she can leave her children with a sitter and hit the mall.

"You have that initial burst around Black Friday and then it slows down," said Ed Fox, a professor of marketing and director of the JCPenney Center for Retail Excellence at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. "Increasingly, you're going to see crowds ramp up in two weeks before Christmas. But it's going to be like flicking on a switch."

A survey of retailers by the International Council of Shopping Centers and UBS Securities reported Tuesday that chain store sales fell by 2 percent for the week ended Dec. 1 compared with the previous week.

Read the full story.

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